Old hands vs. new faces for New Castle council

The success of the downtown revitalization project is a priority for most candidates nominated for the general election.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Voters will have to weigh the experience of two Democrats over the fresh ideas of two Republican newcomers in this fall's council race.
Democratic voters nominated two former council members as their candidates for the general election.
Christine Sands, who previously served on council from 1992 to 2000, came out on top with 26 percent of the vote and John Russo Jr. followed with 20 percent.
Sands, a teacher in the New Castle School District, says it's hard to determine why she got the most votes. She says it might be because she was the only woman on the Democratic ballot or because of her experience as a teacher.
"It could be that maybe all of those students I had over the years turned out to vote for me. I think I was very fortunate that I did as well as I did with the competition," she said.
Others in the Democratic race were Ed Jopek, who finished third with 16 percent; Edward Yerage Jr., fourth, 15 percent; incumbent Robert Bullano, fifth, 10.97 percent; and Billie Malone, last, 10.92 percent of the vote.
Shared goals: Russo said he and Sands, who say they will run as a team in the fall, have many of the same goals for city council.
"We started citywide rezoning when I was last on council, and they still haven't finished it. I think that is something we have to do, especially with downtown revitalization and a new high school" coming, said Russo, who served on council from 1983 to 1995.
GOP race: Top Republican vote-getter Bonnie Lynn Linton said she has many of the same concerns. She ended Tuesday's race with 40 percent of the vote.
"Getting the downtown on its feet again -- it seems like it's been taking so long, and I think it would be a good idea to get in there [on council] and see what's going on. And make the general public more aware of what's going on and what they are trying to accomplish," she said. Linton has never held public office before and said she will have to do much research on city issues before the fall election.
"I just want to be honest with people, and I want to do what's best for them, not what my interests are. I think they want somebody in office that wants to listen to what they have to say," she said.
The other Republican nominee is Stephen Vitale, who got 36 percent of the vote. He could not be reached for comment. Vitale is also new to politics, having served on council only for less than a year. He was appointed to the post last summer when Nick Maiorano resigned.
Joseph Sparano finished third on the Republican ticket with 23 percent of the vote.